Going Green

  • Going Green

    By:  Lori Walker Sartain


    There are so many decisions to make when building a new home or remodeling.  I took my time and did my homework before tackling our home building project.  I found that using eco-friendly products would save me money in the future and it felt good taking part in saving the planet.  “Going Green” is a new way of building and decorating that is fast becoming the norm.




    Global warming, water pollution, air pollution and ozone depletion are just a few of environmental problems facing our planet.  Some are looking for solutions to these ongoing, debated problems.  Consumers who build with green products feel they are making an environmental difference and changing the marketplace. 


    What exactly are green products?


    They are products that are eco-friendly and resource efficient.  Some green products can save you money, some may cost you more.  Buying a salvaged, refurbished or remanufactured product can also be considered using green products.  Theirs three ways a consumer can go green.


    Building Components


    For insulating your home, you can use formaldehyde-free insulation.  Johns Manville at www.jm.com offers this type of insulation which is made of a new innovative acrylic binder that eliminates binder-related formaldehyde emissions during manufacturing.  The insulation also contains 20% post-consumer recycled glass. 


    Installing low-emissivity windows is a way to conserve.  Low-emissivity windows have a special coating on the glass that reduces radiant heat transfer, thereby increasing the window’s insulating value.  Pella offers this type of window and you can visit their site at www.pella.com.


    Tankless water-heating systems are becoming extremely popular.  This system is called an “on demand” water heater as hot water is provided as it is needed.  Demand water heaters heat water directly when you turn on the faucet, without the use of a storage tank.  Therefore, they avoid the standby heat losses associated with gas or electric storage water heaters. 


    I have a Rinnai system and the great thing about tankless water heaters, you never run out of hot water.  Once the water is heated, it delivers a constant supply of heated water, so numerous showers can be taken, laundry can be done and I can run the dishwasher without ever running out of hot water.  I am also saving energy as it is not heating water all day long when it is not in use.  You can read more about Rinnai systems at www.rinnai.us.


    Geothermal heating and cooling units have been named “the most energy-efficient and environmentally sensitive of all space conditioning systems”, by the Environmental Protection Agency.  I have the geothermal Trane system and I love it!   It works differently than a conventional heat pump that uses the outdoor air as its heat source.  Geothermal units don’t have to work as hard because they draw heat from a source whose temperature is moderate.  Basically, the system runs off of water that is underground and it takes advantage of the earth’s constant temperature, approximately 55 degrees, to heat and cool a home.  The EPA says homeowner can save 40-70 percent in heating costs and 30-50 percent in cooling cost compared to conventional systems.  You can visit the Trane site at www.trane.com.


    Materials & Finishes


    Bamboo flooring is absolutely beautiful.  I covered my stairs and second floor with natural bamboo.  Bamboo flooring is elegant, easy to clean and eco-friendly.  It is a perennial evergreen plant that grows in diverse climates and reaches heights of 125 feet or more.  Bamboo is considered the fastest growing wood plant as it can reach its full maturity in 5 to 6 years, unlike the oak tree which can take 20 or more years.  www.Ifloor.com carries several different colors and patterns. 


    If you use tile in your bathroom, you may consider The Fireclay Tile Debris Series which can be used as a backsplash and is available at www.fireclaytile.com.    Fireclay Tile manufactures a terra cotta tile that contains 50% post-consumer and post-industrial recycled materials. 




    I found several sites that offer really striking recycled accessories.  One that really caught my attention was Viva Terra at www.vivaterra.com.  They actually have a section titled Eco-Accents offering wall art, sculptures and bowls.  Another site to check out is Spectradecor.com. This site offers recycled glass cabinet pulls.


    Going Green


    Going green can become expensive as most products cost more than conventional products, but the majority will save you money in the long run.  You can achieve a positive balance between profit and preservation when using eco-friendly products and feel good about being a part of creating a better environment.